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Olivia Stock
26 June 2023, 13:18

Site of legendary Chicago club The Warehouse is now officially a historic landmark

The ‘birthplace of house music’ is now protected from alteration or demolition

the warehouse at 206 south jefferson

The Warehouse, a former Chicago club known as the birthplace of house music, was officially declared as a historic landmark on Wednesday (21st June). Find out more below.

The three-storey building on Chicago’s Jefferson St. operated as The Warehouse club from 1977 to 1982, where Frankie Knuckles, the club’s resident DJ, originated and popularised the style of music that came to be known as house.

The sound – which combined a driving beat, soulful vocals, and spacious orchestration – was quickly embraced by members of Chicago’s Black and Latinx LGBTQ communities, and The Warehouse became a safe haven for those looking to dance freely. In 1983, The Warehouse was closed due to increasingly stringent club and bar laws, and crowds moved over to Knuckles’ new club, the Power House.

The newly-acquired landmark status protects the 113-year-old building, which is currently home to law offices, from alteration or demolition. Preservationists and the music community feared it may be in jeopardy after the building recently went on the market and was listed as an “opportunity to clear the site for new development.”

Non-profit advocacy group, Preservation Chicago, were integral in helping the building gain historic landmark status, naming the former nightclub as Chicago’s most endangered building of 2023.

“The Warehouse at 206 South Jefferson is where Black and Brown Chicagoans celebrated life and love and the birth of house music, a genre that has taken over the globe,” said Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, chair of the Chicago City Council’s zoning committee. “The Warehouse is where Frankie Knuckles, a Grammy winner and proud openly gay Black man, created a safe space for everyone.”

Last year, a rare Frankie Knuckles DJ set from Valentine's Day 1986 was shared to SoundCloud by fellow Chicago music luminary, Braxton Holmes. The 80-minute recording was made at the now-defunct C.O.D. Club in the Windy City. SoSure Music also marked what would have been Knuckles’ 67th birthday with the release of a track from the Director’s Cut project, of which he formed one-half.